Call to Worship
Holy God of sun and wind;
Dance through this room today.
Holy God of sea and storm
Make us wonder at the glory around us.
Holy God of creation and new beginnings;
Show us again your vision of healing and wholeness.
Hymn 104 – The lord of heav’n confess (1,3,4,5)
Prayers of Approach and Confession
Surprising and mysterious God,
you come to us when we least expect it,
calling us out of our routines and plans,
inviting us to follow Christ into new opportunities.
We praise you for the many ways you come to us.
In moments of fear, you speak with words of reassurance. In moments of doubt, you reach out your hand to hold. In moments of turmoil, you bring calm to the storm. You are faithful to us through everything life can bring.
And so we place our trust in you this day and every day,and honour you as our Redeemer and Saviour,
in the name of Christ, our Lord and friend.
When we look for you in your magnificence, and fail to see you standing next to us… Forgive us and help us… When we drown your voice in noise and busyness, and forget to still ourselves to listen to you… Forgive us and help us… When we look for you in good and holy people, but fail to see you in those who make us uncomfortable… Forgive us and help us In the silence, hear us as we cry to you… Reassure us with your love, Surround us with the warmth of your grace And your ever present forgiveness, for you are a kind and gentle God, who seeks us out to bring us home.
Readings – Genesis 37: 1-4,12-28 (Pg 41)
Matthew 14: 22-33 (Pg 981)
Hymn 509 – Jesus calls us o’er the tumult
Prayer of Illumination
Gracious God, as we go out into the world, we pray that we may reflect your love in our families, our church and our community; so that the world can witness that we are followers of Christ . Still our hearts and minds as you calmed the storm and stilled the waters when you were on earth and help us to worship You the Son of the living God. Amen
Earlier this week I visited a friend in Carlisle, and we drove down the Cumbrian coast to Ravenglass, which apparently was a safe port for the Romans. But next door to Ravenglass is Muncaster Castle, which apparently is one of the most haunted houses in Britain. I can’t say I noticed. It seemed quite a happy place to me, and there were wonderful displays of owls and vultures, and the hydrangeas were wonderful. However, if you were to spend the night there it is supposed to get quite eerie. The disciples would have been terrified, for certainly in our Gospel reading today, they were convinced they had seen a ghost, who seemed to be coming right towards them. It is quite scary.
Jesus had fed the 5000 and was exhausted. Remember when the woman with the haemorrhage touched him, power went out of him, so feeding the crowd would have been exhausting work. He needed time away, so he went off to be by himself. But as he was going he told the disciples to make their way to the other side of the Lake and they would meet up there. The other side of the lake was Gentile territory, but Jesus had told them to meet him there, so they set off in their boat. But as they were travelling the weather changed, and a storm started to rage. Some of the disciples were fishermen; they were professionals, so knew what the score was. Storms didn’t happen that often, but they would have known what to do. However, it is not pleasant to be caught in storm. After I had been to Muncaster, we drove up to the Solway coast, and the water was grey and choppy. Not what you would expect in early August. But Matthew describes the disciples’ predicament in vivid detail. The wind howling, the waves surging, and the boat was tossed around. And it seemed to last most of the night, so the disciples would have been exhausted and cold – no wonder when they saw a figure appear on the water, they thought it was a ghost. They somehow didn’t recognise that it was their friend Jesus, appearing amid the storm.
Jesus was walking on the water. Jesus had come to the rescue – all they needed to do was wait till he reached the boat and take control of the situation. That is what I would have done. Just stayed put. But dear, impetuous Peter seemed to think differently from his friends. He saw Jesus and he called out. He didn’t say, Come closer to us. Rather he says, ‘tell me to come closer to you’ and he started to clamber over the side of the boat and began to tread on the water towards Jesus. But when he becomes conscious of the wind and waves, he loses concentration and begins to sink. He took his eyes off Jesus. But Jesus saves him, and the storm calms down.
But I am interested in what Peter did. He didn’t let fear control him or the darkness dictate his behaviour. He didn’t stay passively in the boat, but rather he did what Jesus was doing. That meant getting out of the boat, letting go of his fears and taking the risk of walking on the water too.
We can be surrounded by storms. The world is not in a good way with wars and displacement, wildfires are engulfing Hawaii now. There was a conference about the Amazon this week, but the rainforest is still shrinking, as loggers continue to intimidate indigenous tribes. We can have our own worries about health, about the future, and they can threaten to overwhelm us. The world can be a fearful place. But Peter’s example shows us that we can confront our fears and worries – and look to Jesus. And seek to do as Jesus is doing. We sometimes need to take the plunge, keeping our eyes on Jesus and seeing what he does.
We can strive to forgive, for that’s what Jesus does.
We can learn to be more generous, for that’s what Jesus does.
We can respect each person, for that’s what Jesus does.
We can pray for and love our neighbours, for that’s what Jesus does.
We can break down barriers, for that’s what Jesus does
Open arms wise with compassion, for that’s what Jesus does
Pick up the cross, for that’s what Jesus does.
Yes, we may take our eyes off Jesus and sometimes flounder, but Peter discovered that Jesus was at hand to save, so we know in the storms of our lives, Jesus is at hand. Joseph, sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, would discover that God was at hand to deliver him from his predicament.
For 2000 years men and women have kept their eyes on Jesus in troubled times and discovered a freedom by trusting in him. So let us take our eyes from the storm and focus on Christ and start moving towards him and do as he does.
Hymn 542– Lord speak to me
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Faithful God, bless the gifts we bring to you today. Use them and us to plant seeds of faith, hope and love in the world so that your goodness will flourish and your name be honoured for Christ’s sake. Amen.
Miraculous God, you calmed the storm the disciples were experiencing out on the sea, yet it is not your responsibility to fix the damage we have inflicted on our world which is groaning in pain. This summer has made many realise how much we have damaged and destroyed the natural world. We pray for those in places around the world where the ecological damage is greatest, for those in Greece, Northern Italy, Haiti, Indonesia, India, Southeast Asia, the Global South. We think of the people who suffer the most in these places; the poor, the sick and infirm, young children. Lord, we complain about the rain “spoiling” the summer, but for many the weather is a matter of life and death. Help us to open our eyes to the effect our way of life is having on the in other parts of the world and stir us to actually change.
Miraculous God, you saw how Israel’s sons treated their brother, and you stayed with Joseph and protected him, but it is not your responsibility to fix the damage we have inflicted on others through our abuse of people. We know how harmful, both emotionally and psychologically, war and conflict are to all those in the area where it is taking place. We remember those in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Russia, North & South Korea, Myanmar, Palestine & Israel, Taiwan, Sudan, South Sudan. Make us people of peace and reconciliation, equip us to help those physically, emotionally and psychologically hurt. Help us to remember that no matter which side of the conflict people are on, they are all your children and deserving of prayer and love, even when it is difficult to love them because of their actions.
We also remember those like Joseph who found themselves in countries other than their own, trying to make the best of it, and we remember all asylum seekers and refugees and the anguish they must endure. We remember those who are sold in our world today or exploited by sex traffickers.
Miraculous God, in Jesus you looked with compassion on those struggling with life – we pray for all who have lost people dear to them; be with them in their grieving. We also remember those in hospital or homes, those depressed or disturbed, those who are lonely. In a moment of silence we lift them before you.
We remember all who have departed this life in faith and thank you for the inspiration their example gives to us who are left to continue this life.
Hymn 737 – Will your anchor hold
May the blessing of God the Father be upon us
as we venture out into the world to live to the glory of God’s name.
May the blessing of God the Son be upon us as we step out in faith, to serve Jesus Christ as faithful disciples.
May the blessing of God the Holy Spirit be upon us
as we listen to the promptings of God’s Spirit
at one with our neighbours, with ourselves, and with God.